Notwithstanding all the doom and gloom relating to the unprecedented times we are living through we have a lot to be cheerful about. For a start, God exists. That rather puts everything else in perspective. God exists and he has prepared wonders and glories for us beyond imagination if we are prepared to receive them. That does require a few concessions from us but these concessions really only amount to admitting we are sick and taking the cure.
If you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the world and personal suffering please remember this. Everything that goes wrong, or appears to go wrong, in your life is a spiritual opportunity. Whether it is a matter of ill health or monetary troubles or personal problems of whatever sort, there is a lesson to be learned. Sometimes it is a hard lesson but the wise man sees that whatever life throws at him there is something he can take from it to advance a little closer to God. It is a cliché that behind the clouds there is always a brightly shining sun but it's true. And what do clouds do? They bring rain which promotes growth. This is what suffering also can do in our world if we react rightly to it.
Now, I know that many people will dispute this and say that suffering seems purposeless but I do not claim that God sends this suffering. I am merely saying that we can use suffering to deepen our awareness of God. I am not making the glib assertion that suffering doesn't matter but I do assert that it can be, if we allow it, a means of stripping away the resistance that we are always putting up against God. Jesus told us that if we wished to follow him we would have to take up the cross. The current era is a wonderful opportunity to do just that. If you lived an ideal life in an ideal society you might not have the impetus to develop spiritually in the way you do now at a time of massive spiritual loss.
Cheerfulness is really a form of hope which is one of the three theological virtues, theological meaning in this sense that they are given by grace more than personal attainment or moral rectitude- even though grace only comes to those who allow themselves to be open to it. Hope can be defined as complete confidence in God which is something that comes through complete faith in God. This faith is not just intellectual but the result of a will that has given itself over to the transcendental reality of the divine and this should eventually result in the third theological virtue which is charity. Again, this is misunderstood because charity in a spiritual sense is very different from the more conventional secular meaning which is a mixture of good will and empathy. Spiritual charity is rooted above all in the love of God and the resultant love of man coming from that love of God. Man is not loved for his own sake but for his spiritual reality. This is very important because it means that charity, properly understood, works for the spiritual development of man not his earthly benefit. Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commandments." That is charity.
Hope is very necessary at the moment. It will enable us to both see the darkness and go beyond it. You need to see the darkness but you also need to see there is light behind it. This is not a false optimism because it does not look for salvation in this world. But it knows that there is salvation in the world beyond from all the vicissitudes of this world and it looks forward with confidence to that bright new day.